Saturday, November 19, 2005

On Friendship

I haven't posted for a while. Want to know what's been running in my head? I haven't written for a while, so I'm going to use as many elephantine and verbose words as I can in the effort to maintain my vocabulary. I realize that this would make this post an arduous read, but I do not feel I can write about this topic in a transparent manner anyway; as such, I deem obfuscation necessary. However, speaking about it with a friend is perhaps easier.

It is a peculiar thing when one considers why different people will have friends. Ultimately, there is that aspect of companionship that everyone desires. However, one's reason for defining what makes a friend a friend will vary from one person to the next. I defer to my own concept that friends are simply friends. There does not need to be a reason. This is perhaps the most overt I can make the command to love thy neighbour as thyself. But even so, I have come to find that there are different categories of friends.

Odder still is juxtaposing this paradigm of friendship with other views. There are those who will only be friends with those who have the same likes and preferences, while others will not make any friendships unless there is something to gain. And of course, my own view is at the opposite end of the spectrum by positing that friendships are about what you can give.

But I digress. With friends, there is some type of bond that cannot be broken by 3rd parties (if it were possible to break the bond, I would question the veracity of the friendship in the first place). As such, friendships are mainly a closed loop mechanism, though it may occasionally receive input from outside sources. However, the loop itself has the ability to receive the input and handling the input is never beyond the loop's control.

Therefore, there are friendships that I am confident would last forever. In particular, I think of one guy who is now in Santa Cruz. We were in the same high school for perhaps all of one year? The same church for perhaps only a few years? How many times has he switched countries? How much has he changed? How well do I really know this guy, especially since we never talk? And yet, I get the feeling that if I ever were to meet up with him again, we'd be able to chat like he'd never left. An absolutely irrational conclusion to be sure, but one that exists nevertheless.

On the other hand, there exist what Les and Leslie Parrott have come to call friends of the road. Friends of the road are inevitable. As we grow and our lives change, so do our goals, our interests, and values. And we come to find that certain friends who were close in the past for some reason are not as close in the present, with a trend of becoming almost acquaintances in the future. But this is to be expected because your goals and interests take you down one path, while the goals and interests of your friends take them down another. I've had several friends of the road, and am sure to have more in the future. These people will always be special to me, but I have to acknowledge that we will not be able to maintain the friendship at past levels. Having lunch with a friend today, I could not help but feel that another friend was hitting the road (though these are often easy to spot from the beginning).

Oh, by the way, if you haven't read books by Les and Leslie Parrott, please do. You learn important stuff that you can apply in any relationship, whether with friends, family, or God. And spouses and partners too, but I do not speak from experience on that topic. ;)

OK, so what are friends? Any multitude of characteristics could qualify someone as a friend, but the following list is probably a good guideline:
  • People for whom you care
  • People for whom you are willing to sacrifice yourself
  • People who are willing to help you out if you're in a rut
  • People who make you a priority, especially if you need someone to make you a priority
  • People you love for who they are
  • People who love you for who you are
  • People in whom you can confide for your darkest times
Now then, what of all those friends who do not fall into one of these categories? Who are they? Certainly, they are still friends. Then there is obviously different levels of friendships. Some friends of mine annoy me to no end (as I do them) if we ever discuss certain topics. Our views are simply too disparate to be reconciled. I am not saying that I am annoyed by the disparity; on the contrary, let there be more disparity, for disparity necessitates diversity, and diversity brings about innovation, and innovation brings about new beginnings! Rather, disparate perspectives that have to do with lifestyle choices (whether it be an addiction, interest, or life goals) have potential to lead to combative arguments, because the discourse is no longer about simply perspectives; it is about life impact and even societal impact.

Most will choose to go their own path when given the choice, as that is human nature. We want to make our own choices and do not wish to have other people telling us what to do; neither should we have anyone telling us what to do, if we are indeed mature enough to make our own choices and face the consequences if there ever are any. So with these friends, I avoid many topics and simply hang out: do the common things that brought us together in the first place. Why? Because friends are friends. And I do value that kind of friendship, where people can be friends with each other and even depend on each other as last resorts, if need be. Because friends are friends. And friends are about giving, especially when there is nobody else willing to give (if you concede my postulation).

Despite that effort to remain friends, however, friends of the road are still inevitable. Why? And let's admit it, it is painful. I never did like going through the process. But why try to force a friendship? It only makes it all the more clear and painful how different the roads will become. I don't believe I have yet found an answer to this 3-letter question. The SC posse will always be together, though there have been members who have dropped out. Will we? What of friends from CCC?

And now over the past month, I see people changing. I see friends getting married. I see friends in relationships that tie up all their time. I see friends moving to different cities (or even different countries). I see friends who are simply going on different roads, despite remaining in the same city and having the same amount of time available. And it is painful to see. But I am happy for all of them (especially the ones getting married). They are going down the paths where they feel they want to go, and I want to encourage them down those paths.

Of course, that leaves me here, at a stage in my life where I wonder what my own path would be. The longer I stay here, the more it seems that I should move on. Though Verm has noted that this is a natural stage that everyone we know seems to have gone through. Now it's my turn.... I've narrowed it down quite a bit over the past month.
  1. Status quo. Perhaps something strange and unexpected will happen.
  2. A venture. Perhaps one of us will finally hit on a winning idea, and I'll get to experience the fascination of unfettered innovation and creativity that can only be seen in entrepreneurship.
  3. Like Yellowjacket, go work for this company.
  4. MSI (same organization I was with this summer), starting out in IT, but also being involved in community development.
  5. Do IT for Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Originally, I had thought that I would make a decision on this as early as next year. But I think I've realized (once the emotion died down) that it's a difficult decision, and I should not make it hastily. In addition, I can do any of them in any order, or even in combination with each other. The only thing I've realized this whole time is that I am glad I have my anchor. Truly, nothing in this world can be counted as an eternal treasure. Perhaps that realization is the main thing that makes this life seem worth living, because I know someone who has something that is eternal. Can you connect the dots in that logic? I won't bother spelling it out.
Jesus, Lover of My Soul
Australia Hillsongs

Jesus, lover of my soul
Jesus, I will never let you go
You've taken me from the miry clay
Set my feet upon a rock and now I know

I need you
I love you
Though my world may fall, I'll never let you go
My saviour, My closest friend
I will worship you
Until the very end.
And FYI, Vienna Teng was amazing. She is so amazing live. And her explanation of how she came to write the song Homecoming gives it so much more power. It gives people hope to live their dreams.


  1. I think of you the same way, Bobby...

  2. Your single post embodies all the separate entries I have thought of and written on friendship in the pastt. I didn't know you had such similar thoughts. Hope you'll feel better soon.